Ben Roethlisberger Injury: 4 Reasons Why It Could Doom Pittsburgh's Season
Ben Roethlisberger injured his left foot Sunday against the Texans, and it could be broken. Pittsburgh's quarterback had a broken bone in his right foot last year and played through it, but if his foot is completely broken, he and the Steelers won't be as fortunate this time around.
Pittsburgh is an extremely flawed team through the first quarter of the season, but Mike Tomlin will likely be able to get his team to work past many of the issues that have led the team to a 2-2 start. Without Roethlisberger though, the Steelers will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Here's why the Black and Yellow need Roethlisberger at his best in order to make the playoffs.
4. Bad Defensive Play
The only decent defensive performance out of Pittsburgh in the early going was against Seattle. Every team in the league would love to eat up on some seachicken.
When the side of the ball that was supposed to be rock solid starts to faulter, more pressure is on the quarterback to keep up the pace on offense, especially when the ground game gets three yards per carry from its starting runner.
Just-paid linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons need to play like their paychecks indicate. Ben Roethlisberger may be banged up, but they can hurt other teams' thrower.
Without Troy Polamalu's play, the defense would be much worse. If Warren Sapp is correct in saying that Polamalu is running around with a sled, every other player on the unit needs to get one.
3. Late Season Schedule
Pittsburgh has a favorable last seven games, as they take on the Chiefs, Rams and Browns and Bengals twice. However, the Ravens also have a "cakewalk" so to speak. Baltimore has Seattle, Indianapolis and the Browns and Bengals twice.
Mike Tomlin's team may have to use the last six weeks to get ahold of a playoff spot rather than just gain momentum. Baltimore being up a game on Pittsburgh is actually important because the two teams have nearly identical schedules left.
If the Steelers can't gain traction as they seek to destroy the Ravens' one-game lead, home field advantage in the playoffs could be the least of their worries.
2. Conference and Division Competition
The Baltimore Ravens only have a one-game lead on the Steelers, but they have a head-to-head victory against their rivals. Pittsburgh appears much more flawed than Baltimore through four games.
If the Steelers level out their production to nearly equal the Ravens, Tomlin and company will need to have that Week 9 game against Baltimore. A win could swing Pittsburgh to a division title and a loss could mean missing out on a wild-card spot.
Pittsburgh's Week 11 bye can actually be considered too late, even though many teams value a later bye in their schedule. If Roethlisberger is out for a month, he'd miss games against the 3-1 Titans and Patriots. Assuming the Steelers keep their head above water against Jacksonville and Arizona, Pittsburgh would still only be at .500.
The Week 5 matchup against Tennessee could have playoff implications. The Titans could easily make the Wild Card because of the weak AFC South and the Steelers aren't favored to take the AFC North after four games.
1. Offensive Woes
Rashard Mendenhall hasn't been able to transfer his 2010 success over into 2011. Maybe James Harrison's comments have gotten to Mendenhall, maybe karma has struck the running back over his 9-11 comments, or it could be the terrible offense line play. Whatever the reason, three yards per carry won't get the job done.
Pass blocking certainly isn't a breeze for the front five either. There is no other quarterback in the NFL that could consistently take the pounding that Ben Roethlisberger takes, whether it's due on some plays to strictly poor offensive line play or Big Ben holding onto the ball too long.
The Steelers may be one offensive lineman away from putting in a defensive guy, but they're one quarterback away from their season going down the tube.